What are Superfoods and why should you eat them?

Author: Reports and Insights

The term “superfood” is rather a fresh term, although as per experts and nutritionists, there is no such thing as a superfood and the term was only made up for commercialization purposes so that it can stimulate the food trends and sell products.  As per the American Heart Association, there is no set criteria for ascertaining what is and what is not a superfood. Despina Hyde, a registered dietician at New York University's Langone Medical Center said that there is no specific food group of superfoods. The food and beverage industry confers the foods as superfoods that consist of maximal nutritional benefits for limited or minimum calories. Simply put, the name “superfoods'' is granted to the kind of foods which are extremely rich in nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, that allegedly have the capacity to positively influence the health of an individual.

Notably, the majority of the superfoods are plant-based and some of them are fish and dairy, which are considered as nutritionally substantial and therefore fruitful for one's health. Salmon, blueberries, acai, and kale are a few examples of foods that have conquered the "superfood" title.

The global population, by the year 2050, is anticipated to rise to approximately ten billion people who need appropriate nourishment on the planet of definite resources. Moreover, it is quite certain that to do this we need to remodel the entire global food system – from the way we fish and sow and cultivate to what we prefer to eat. It is a complicated task, and we all hold an essential role to play in order to deliver nutritious food to each one of us, and thus making the food system more sustainable. It is worth noting that, worldwide, we ride on coattails of a very limited range of foods. As per the estimates, around 75 percent of the food supply, globally, is sourced from only 12 plant and 5 animal species. Rice, wheat, and maize - just these three compose roughly 60 percent of calories from plants in the complete human diet, which precludes most of the valuable sources of nutrition. Whilst people are likely to get adequate calories, these narrow diets cannot provide sufficient minerals and vitamins. Also, sowing and reaping such a precise range of crops using comprehensive techniques may have severe repercussions on the delicate natural ecosystems.

Furthermore, dependence on animal-based protein sources is likely to increase additional strain on the environment, as dairy, meat, and egg production is more land, water, and greenhouse gas-intensive than plant production. These complexities appear invincible, but it is believed that large scale change begins with small steps. Quoting the words of Peter Gregory, Research Advisor, and Crops for the Future, “Diversified diets not only improve human health but benefit the environment through diversified production systems that encourage wildlife and more sustainable use of resources.”

Although there should be no unrealistic expectations regarding superfoods as they are not cure-all foods. Involving superfoods as part of the regular nutritional intake is excellent but only when ingesting a healthy and balanced diet largely. People should focus on having a “super diet” rather than concentrating on specific foods. Superfoods have bright colors and smells, which implies that they are entirely unadulterated, natural, and filled with plenty of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more that can have a healthy impact on an individual’s overall well-being. Studies have shown that superfoods rich in flavonoids and antioxidants are likely to assist in preventing severe chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease and cancer, as well as it will help in enhancing immunity and reducing inflammation. Besides that, we all are well aware of regularly eating vegetables and fruits also has substantial associations with a minor risk of various lifestyle-related medical conditions and global fatality.

On top of that, the nutrients present in superfoods help in promoting a healthy complexion, hairs, nails, and escalate energy levels, as well as it can also help in maintaining a healthy body-weight.

In other respects, the term “superfoods” has also faced a lot of criticism as scientists argue that using the term "superfood" is broadly a marketing tool, without any roots in academic research. Nevertheless, manufacturers around the world heavily rely on marketing tactics and interest groups to frame the public's notion of their products. Other than that, another general criticism of the making use of the term "superfood" is that, though the food itself might be wholesome and nutritious, its processing might not be. For instance, various types of "super-juices" sourced from noni fruit, acai berry, and pomegranate might also consist of large quantities of added sugar.

In a similar manner, whole grains are oftentimes processed so that they can be more palatable and delicious to eat, but it makes them less nutritious. To wind up, superfoods are likely to be a great alternative in nutritional eating, and comprehending the nutritional value of the food one eats can be illuminating, but there are abundant nutritious foods out there to discover, even if no one is labeling them "super."